The other day a customer came in with a pretty good load of mixed scrap copper. He was unsure of how to sort the load so that it would be beneficial to him. I walked him through some options and how he could get the most for all his different types. Copper will get sorted out somewhere down the metal recycling line. I figured some information through this post could come in handy for some of you.
It can be frustrating trying to figure out what to do with your scrap copper. What is it worth? How do I sort or separate it? Should I prepare it a certain way? Will the scrap yard take it like this? These are all good questions and should be considered when preparing your copper for recycling. Here’s a few tips to help make this process easier.
1) Copper tubing
a. #1 copper is bare and uncoated with no attached fittings, no solder
b. #2 copper may be painted, have attached fittings, joints with solder present, or burnt
2) Copper wire (more common types)
a. Insulated coating: Usually the thicker the wire, the better the value. The amount of insulation compared to the amount of copper is a big factor in the value. For example, an extension cord would have a lower percentage of copper than romex wire. I wouldn’t recommend burning your wire. We always grade our wire when it is bought, but when in doubt, give us a call.
b. Bare wound wire: A general rule is that each strand of copper should be at least pencil lead thick to have a greater value. Also, check the wire with a magnet. Certain types have a steel core through the middle.
a. Copper/Brass – leave them intact, just get the steel off the ends
b. Aluminum/Copper – copper tubing through aluminum fins, just get the steel off the ends, not worth your time to get the copper separated
These are a few of the more common types of scrap copper we see through the metal recycling process. Many more variations of scrap copper may be sold. There is usually some type of value to your scrap. My best advice is build a relationship with your scrap yard. If they won’t let that happen, switch yards! You should be able to talk with someone about your scrap inquiries.
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